Saturday, March 5, 2011

Frederic Bazille - Family Reunion

Frederic Bazille, Family Reunion,1867 (Musee d'Orsay, Paris)
Frederic Bazille came from a very wealthy family in Montpellier. Unfortunately he died at age 28, on the battlefield in the Franco-Prussian war.  He was very good friends with Monet and Renoir and gave them financial and moral support.  He let them use his studio and supplies, making sure they were able to continue to work.

Although he didn't live to exhibit with the Impressionists, Bazille was interested in the figure within a landscape and painted en plen air.  Light effects were very important in his work.

In Family Reunion, each individual face is a distinct portrait.  The eye moves around the picture plane picking out the different family members looking out at us with their unique expressions.  Light filters through the trees, coming from the right, accentuating the bright colors of the landscape in the background, hitting the surface on some areas.

Unlike Monet's paintings, Bazille is concerned with representing his family than just a group of figures in the latest fashions.  This family seems to be in accord somehow. Even though they are situated in little groups around the terrace, there is a sense of unity the artist has achieved with the direction of their gaze and the color of their clothing - they are all in harmonious blues and whites and grays.

Bazille's family looks very well situated in this place, in their own landscape - a big family firmly grounded, underneath the branches of a huge tree, confident of their place in this society.


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